A Big Vote Today on National Security

Pardon the interruption for a moment, but there's a big bill in the House today that could tie the hands of the Justice Department and the White House going forward. The intelligence authorization bill is up, but Republicans will probably use a motion to recommit -- a procedural tool that the minority can put forward after all amendments have been considered -- to force a vote on whether Guantanamo detainees can be transferred to the U.S. for criminal trials, or whether the detainees would face military commissions. (The House and Senate can influence this by the power of the purse, prohibiting funding for holding certain types of trials.)

It's worth keeping in mind that the House affirmatively approved criminal trials for Guantanamo detainees last October in the Homeland Security Approps bill. Sen. Lindsay Graham has a bill that would specifically defund and prohibit the prosecution of the 9/11 defendants in a federal criminal court. Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) has a similar proposal in the House. Rep. Peter King (R-NY) has one that goes farther and would prohibit the prosecution of any Guantanamo detainee that was held there on Jan 22, 2009 in federal criminal court.

It's hard to see the president vetoing the Intel auth. bill -- and the Senate seems inclined toward the Graham approach. Already, Congress has refused to allow the president to transfer any detainees to the U.S. for anything but a criminal trial -- meaning that, for now, no detainees can be indefinitely detained within the U.S.